Water activities you can do without a permit

Water Activities You Can Do Without A Permit 02

There are lots of activities you can do on the water that do not require a permit. Grab a wetsuit and dive in!

All the activities mentioned below can take place in waters where you are no more than 50m from the bank, with no major risks. These are known as C class waters. To find out more about C class waters, take a look at this fact sheet

Remember, when heading out onto the water both young people and adults should wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid. To find out how best to keep safe while near the water, download this helpful safety leaflet.


Swimming is an excellent skill to learn. It is not only fun, but also helps young people to develop confidence in the water and try out other activities, like kayaking, canoeing, sailing and surfing. Take advantage of your local leisure centre or lido and go for a swimming session with your Group. Here are 17 games to play in the swimming pool!

For an open water experience, why not visit a natural pond this summer? To ensure less confident swimmers have a great time and stay safe, make sure they wear inflatable armbands or floats, and stick to swimming in shallower depths. For more information on water safety, have a look into the National Water Safety Management Programme.

Rock pooling

Hidden in the depths of the sea are countless intriguing underwater creatures. Investigate sea life by taking time out to go rock pooling on the coast. Before setting out on your trip, you will need to prep your equipment. Here are some tips on what to pack and how to carry out the activity. For more help on discovering marine life, use the National Trust’s guide to rock pooling.


Introduce your Group to the world under the water by going snorkelling. To get started, find your nearest snorkelling centre or check out how to run this yourself. Get to grips with the different types of sea life in British waters by using this guide to UK snorkelling sites. It will help you organise your trip.

Raft building

Rafting is a great activity that inspires teamwork, pioneering skills and provides lots of entertainment on the water. There are lots of different ways to build a raft; one popular way is to use pioneering poles, empty barrels and rope. For a visual reference on how to build one, have a look at this diagram.

Why not split your Group into teams and challenge them to build the most stable raft? Before heading out onto the waters, make sure everyone is wearing a helmet and buoyancy aid and that you have organised the appropriate safety insurance with Unity.

Kayaking and canoeing

Take to the waters this summer by kayaking or canoeing down your nearest waterway. Both activities can take place in canals and small rivers. If you want to practice paddling before venturing out into open water, why not organise to do these activities in a swimming pool?        

If a real boat is a step too far for your young people, get crafty and inspire your Group to design and build their own cardboard boat to use on the water. If you’re wondering how to go about building a cardboard boat, watch this video. Take your boat-making skills one step further like these Scouts, and see if you can build a small one-man coracle.

Pond dipping

Similar to rock pooling, pond dipping encourages young people and adults to explore wildlife in its natural habitat. Before heading out, use this information sheet to inform your Scouts about the different species they are likely to find in ponds.

There’s more you can do!

You can find more activity ideas and guidance in our A-Z of activities. There are also many opportunities for members to take part in other activities which are not specifically covered in the activity rules and that don’t need a permit. Take a look at POR rule 9.77 and speak to your District or County team for support. 

If you’re thinking of planning some more adventurous outdoor activities, here‘s a short guide to land activities you can do without a permit.

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